PONTIAC, Mich. – Timothy Bradley will sport the throwback look on Saturday when he climbs into the ring at the Silverdome to face Devon Alexander on HBO for the World Boxing Council-World Boxing Organization super lightweight titles.
Bradley will wear shorts that go only to the mid-thigh and socks that reach his knees as a tribute to fighters of the 1980s that he idolized such as Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.
HBO, and the sport, can only hope that Bradley and Alexander produce the same kind of dramatics in the ring as the men the great boxing writer George Kimball dubbed "The Four Kings," in his brilliant 2009 book.
The fight is the first bout between unbeaten American world champions since Mike Tyson and Tony Tucker met for the undisputed heavyweight title in Las Vegas in 1987. It is, perhaps, most reminiscent of the legendary 1981 welterweight fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between the then-30-1 Leonard and the then-32-0 Hearns.
Yet, there has been as much talk about why the fight is in suburban Detroit and whether or not the fighters are meeting too early in their careers. Bradley, 27, is 26-0 with 11 knockouts, while Alexander, 23, is 21-0 with 13 knockouts.
The match has been dubbed, "The Super Fight," by promoters Gary Shaw and Don King, but it is not getting a super reception from an apparently uninterested public. No one with any knowledge would say what the ticket sales are, but there are many reports they're dreadful and that King and Shaw will have to paper the house in order to have any semblance of a crowd.
Fortunately, both promoters are excellent at that, but it's farcical that a fight which would have drawn a passionate fan base of 15,000 or more in Alexander's hometown of St. Louis was shuttled to a city where no one apparently cares.
Shaw and King received a site fee and will reportedly make a profit in excess of $200,000 each even if no tickets are sold, so they're not as invested in beating the drums and garnering attention for the fight as they would be if they had risked their own money on it.
A mistake by the promoters, though, can't take away from a bout that is as evenly matched as Alexander-Bradley. There is little to choose from between them in nearly every category.
Alexander may have a slight edge in quickness, but Bradley likely has a slight advantage in body punching. Each has a brilliant uppercut which he uses often and each is masterful at controlling the pace.
The difference may come down to which of them came up with the better game plan and which can make the smartest adjustments during the fight.
Bradley is a momentum fighter who likes to back his opponents up and has been able to wear them down with a forceful assault. It's why trainer Kevin Cunningham wants Alexander to work his jab early and often.
"We have to get off first and we want to be last," Cunningham said, intimating that Alexander will produce a high punch output.
Both sides are concerned about head butts and Cunningham said Friday following the weigh-in, in which Bradley weighed 139 1/2 and Alexander weighed 140, that he plans to ask referee Frank Garza to watch Bradley using his head as a weapon.
Given that Bradley is right-handed and Alexander left-handed, odds of a head butt are increased, but it's even more significant given that each man often leans forward as he punches.
There will be pain, however, regardless, even if their heads don't clash. Both men are quality offensive fighters and figure to be able to touch the other.
Give Bradley a slight edge because of his pressure and his experience and figure he'll pull out a unanimous decision.
When great fighters meet, anything can happen, so the best advice for Saturday is to expect the unexpected.
- Devon Alexander
- Timothy Bradley